In my opinion, one of the finest and certainly most entertaining law shows to ever hit our television screens was the American law firm show, “Boston Legal”.
To me, what set this show apart from all its competitors was the intense friendship and understanding of the show’s two lead characters; Denny Crane played by
Mr. Star Trek himself (William Shatner), and Alan Shore (James Spader.) The success behind the law firm, and the majority of Shores cases, was Allan’s ability to seek out information (often scandalous) that would be dropped on the state prosecutor’s argument like “Fat Man” on Nagasaki.
Spader’s character was colourful to say the least, but he understood one thing very clearly: He knew information and evidence that was missed by the state’s investigators would turn the judge or jury in his favour, every time. He also accepted that obtaining this illusive evidence required specialist help. This is where the litany of private investigators and surveillance specialists came into the show’s overall plots.
Finding Evidence That Was Initially Not Found
In the real world, private investigators or investigation companies are regularly hired to find information that initially may have been missed. Professional private investigators are trained and experienced in understanding the law. Therefore, when hired by an attorney to assist with digging up evidence or information, they will look at exactly what is needed to assist the attorney in strengthening their case. More often than not, the investigator will be mandated to look for inconsistencies in the state’s case, or to find additional witnesses and facts. Re-visiting crime scenes, and sourcing of CCTV recordings from surrounding buildings is also part and parcel of the investigator’s modus operandi.
I very often get requests for background intelligence and character investigation reports on individuals, witnesses and complainants. It is staggering just how often this approach assists attorneys in turning cases to their favour.
Private investigators who are well established in the investigation arena will have an array of specialist resources that attorneys generally do not have. These resources are used to obtain intelligence or provide services that the average person is not able to get.
The contacts and well-placed sources that private investigators have often open up a vast selection of avenues for evidence collection and experts available, empowering the attorneys to build a strong defense. These experts also offer an excellent way in which to show that the attorney and their firm are both prepared and savvy.
Veteran private investigators are usually very objective and aware of the legal aspects of both the complainant and the state. As the vast majority of veteran investigators are ex-Police detectives, or have similar backgrounds, their input on a case is very welcome.
I have found that as a “veteran” myself (if one considers 30 years as veteran qualification), my experience on cases is wide and incredibly varied. Essentially, this translates into me very often being able to provide professional input by way of past experience and case scenario. Seasoned investigators are much like specialist physicians, in that after years of study and practical experience they have probably encountered very similar cases in the past.
I keep all our firm’s case files and reports going back 30 years for this very reason. It is hugely beneficial to the attorney when I can cite previous case examples or provide insight as to how another attorney handled a similar case. This type of input does not come from textbooks, but rather from years of experience (both good and bad). On this point I do, however, want to make it known that it should NOT be a pre-requisite to hiring a private investigator that he/she has police background. I can name many brilliant private investigators, both locally and abroad, who are unquestionably legends in the private investigation field, through pure experience and natural talent and without a day’s formal police background.
Attorneys will always need “foot soldiers” someone who bears the scars of being in the trenches time and time again. Private investigators who are not scared off or intimidated by the ugly underbelly of the world we live in are a real value add to any attorney or law firm. After all… the world of silks and chambers is very different to the streets and playgrounds of those who attorneys are required to defend. Having a professional investigator in your corner makes walking through this landscape much more tolerable.
Private investigators are not only useful to defence attorneys, but very often could be the difference between success or failure.
Kyle Condon – GRAD of I.S (SA)
082 820 5363